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Employers weigh in: Is virtual recruiting here to stay?

Lessons learned from a year of virtual recruiting—plus what to expect in fall 2021 and beyond.

On March 10th, 2021 Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s VP of Higher Education and Student Success, held a webinar panel discussion with talent acquisition leaders from Deloitte and Discover to discuss their takeaways from their first all-virtual campus recruiting season and what they have planned for the fall.

Here are three key takeaways:

Virtual recruiting is (mostly) here to stay

At the outset of the pandemic in 2020, Deloitte and Discover were able to quickly transition their internship programs and recruiting activities to virtual. Deloitte had already held some recruiting activities (like interviews) virtually pre-COVID. Meanwhile, Discover saw its application volume double in 2020 compared to 2019.

Looking ahead to fall 2021 and beyond, both companies acknowledged that a lot remains uncertain. That said, they expect virtual recruiting to continue to play a big role in their recruiting strategy.

Fostering brand awareness and building relationships with students earlier in their academic journey are key areas where virtual programming offers employers the opportunity to reach students in new and creative ways.

Virtual meetings also work well for conducting interviews. Screening interviews might take place virtually while final stage candidates may be invited to visit offices in-person.

Even when in-person gathering can safely resume, employers see a huge potential for virtual recruiting to complement in-person efforts. With much lower cost and time required, virtual recruiting allows employers to reach more schools and students than they could with a solely in-person strategy.

Virtual recruiting creates more opportunity—but challenges remain

Virtual recruiting has created unparalleled access for both students and employers.

Students now have more opportunities to hear directly from company executives and board members — people who otherwise would be too busy to travel and speak at campuses.

Employers can now broaden their reach to student populations they otherwise would not have the capacity to recruit from in-person.

That being said, screen fatigue is real for both students and employers. Both sides need to adapt to the challenges of capturing and holding the other’s attention through a screen. Discover, for instance, learned that shorter webinars were much better for engaging students than 45-60 minute sessions (the typical length of an in-person session).

Career services has the opportunity to play a larger role in connecting students and employers

When asked for their thoughts on how virtual recruiting changes their relationship with career services, Deloitte noted that virtual programming requires less logistical support from schools. Administrative tasks like scheduling interviews and collecting resumes can now be easily completed by employers on their own.

This gives career centers more time to work as strategic advisors to students and employers.

As the job search expands to include both traditional and virtual recruiting, students will require extra coaching to be prepared for both. In a recent survey, 2 out of 3 students found adjusting to virtual recruiting difficult, even while 41% agreed that every employer will eventually have to adopt virtual recruiting.

Employers would welcome a more consultative partnership with career centers to help target relevant student populations.

Navigating a school’s unique student organizations, classes, and faculty is an example of where employers seek more guidance from career centers. Some employers would even be open to discussing a premium fee for these services, a promising new revenue source for career centers.

Want more virtual recruiting insights?

Read the latest virtual recruiting insights from our February 2021 student survey.

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